Showrunners 10: The Middle Build of Killing Eve

This week we will discuss the 5 Commandments of the Middle Build of Amazon Prime’s Killing Eve.

The Core Elements of a Story

Randall:

As a review, if you follow the Story Grid Method, most stories are made up of the following elements:

  • 3 ActsBeginning Hook, Middle Build, Ending Payoff
  • There are 5 Commandments in each scene, episode, and act that includes the Inciting Incident, the Turning Point, the Crisis Question, the Climax, and the Resolution
  • There are 15 Core Scenes that turn on the Global Value; 5 Core Scenes in each Act, and these Core Scenes are the 5 Commandments of the Act

Stated more simply: the 5 Commandments of the Middle build are the 5 Core Scenes of Act 2 which are the Inciting Incident, the Turning Point, the Crisis, the Climax, and the Resolution that turn on the Global Value.  

The Middle Build of Killing Eve occurs between episodes 3 through 7 and the Genre is Thriller, so the Global Value is Life and Death.  Therefore, all 5 Core Scenes of the Middle Build should turn on Life and Death.  

It is important to note that if the 15 Core Scenes of your story do not turn on your Global Value, then you may not be writing a story in your chosen genre or you might have to tweak some scenes to make the Core Scenes turn on the Global Value.  Something to consider when editing and writing stories.

Inciting Incident

Melanie:

The Inciting Incident if when Bill is killed, Eve realizes for the first time that her job is dangerous and that she could die and that her decisions have consequences.  So, obviously, this scene does turn on the Global Value of life and death that we expect from a Thriller.

For Eve’s Worldview shift, this is the part of the series when Eve realizes that her actions have consequences: she goes from ignorance to wisdom, the hard way.

Turning Point

Parul:

The Turning Point is when Villanelle breaks into Eve’s house and threatens her husband.  This is when Eve realizes she has something to lose in the pursuit of her heart’s desire which is to become an agent and fulfill her purpose in life.  It turns on life and death because she realizes her husband is at risk and she herself literally has a knife to her throat at one point (and in the meatloaf).

The Crisis

Randall:

Once she realizes that she and her husband are at risk from her job, the question is does Eve continue to track Villanelle to finally stop her, even though she may risk the lives of the people who are closest to her.  Or does she give up and hope Villanelle leaves her family alone.

Melanie: 

Eve still wants to follow the investigation because she is obsessed with Villanelle and confident, almost arrogantly so, in her abilities.

Parul – Climax

Randall:

Eve continues to pursue Villanelle, hoping to stop her before she can do any more damage.

Resolution

Parul

The Resolution is that in her pursuit of Villanelle she knows more about the 12 and meets Anna, helping her to understand Villanelle better.  And the risk to Eve’s life is even more apparent when she realizes that Villanelle killed Anna’s husband.

Melanie

The whole Middle Build is really good for Eve’s Worldview shift because she realizes that she can’t even trust the people she is working with, such as Carolyn.

Parul

I don’t think that the Middle Build includes Eve finding out that Carolyn has been hiding things from her when Eve sees the video footage of Carolyn meeting with Villanelle in the prison.

Randall

I think there is something to be said about the Middle Build ending with Eve meeting Anna because the Resolution is the result of the Climax decision.  Eve has decided to continue her investigation, and the result of that decision is she recognizes that her family is even more in danger because of what Villanelle did to Anna’s family.  And then the Ending Payoff might begin when Eve sees the video footage of Carolyn with Villanelle.

What are the stakes of the Crisis, if it’s not to protect her family?

What do you as the viewer think?

Melanie – Value Change – MB

Bill is killed which motivates Eve to continue searching and tracking Villanelle, but in the end, Eve has lost Villanelle again.

Polarity Change:

-/ – –

Middle Build Summary

Randall:

After realizing Bill is violently killed by Villanelle, Eve realizes how dangerous her situation is and even after Villanelle breaks into her home and threatens her husband, she still resolves to hunt Villanelle resulting in a deeper understanding of the 12 and Villanelle.  However, in her search, all her clues come to nothing and she loses track of Villanelle.

Does the Killing Eve series work so far?

As a Thriller:  

Absolutely – Intrigue, excitement, assassinations.  The characters are engaging and interesting.

Reviewing the Obligatory Scenes and Conventions of the Thriller, the Beginning Hook answered the following:

Obligatory Scenes:

An inciting Crime indicative of a Master villain – Villanelle is assassinating people for an unknown reason and there are no clues to help MI5 catch her.

Speech in Praise of the Villain – Eve praises her when she evaluates the femoral cut of the first victim and actually re-enacts the move on herself.  She also praises her when Villanelle breaks into her home, telling her she is exceptionally smart and capable.

The hero becomes the victim – Eve has already been hunted by Villanelle during the house break-in, but I expect it to happen one more time.

Hero at the Mercy of the Villain – This scene hasn’t happened yet.

False Ending (two endings)

Conventions:

A MacGuffin – the Villains’ Object of Desire – Villanelle is a psychopath who enjoys her job as an assassin and she enjoys her quality of life, so her Object of Desire is to continue to kill for money.

Investigative Red Herrings: Nadia and Anna provide some information, but ultimately they aren’t the key to Villanelle.  Also, Vlad and Constantin don’t provide the clues that Carolyn and Eve need. And Frank was mostly a dead end except for some vague information about the 12.

Making it Personal: Villanelle did threaten Eve’s husband; and now that Eve knows more about anna’s situation, it’s even more apparent that Eve’s husband might be in jeopardy

Clock: The clock is continuous because the longer Villanelle remains at large, the more people she kills and the closer she gets to her goal, which is unknown

As a love story:

Randall:

The lovers separate again.  Eve has a greater understanding of what makes Villanelle work after talking with Anna.  Here we also see another triangle with Anna, Villanelle, and Eve. but really, they two characters (lovers) have only met twice during the series.

Parul:

It’s love light.  I only say it’s a love story because of what happens at the beginning and the end.  We’ll only find out in the end after the final episode why Eve is really pursuing Villanelle.

From a Worldview Perspective: 

Parul:

Eve’s External Object of Desire (want) – In Killing Eve, the protagonist, Eve, is trying to stop Villanelle from killing more people and also solve the mystery of who she works for.  This is what she wants to do.

Eve’s Internal Object of Desire (need) –  Eve has good intuition in a job where they have a lot of technology but seemingly not enough. Eve is ordinary, but she’s missing something in her life. And it is the energizing force of Villanelle that breaks her out of her mold.  Internally, Eve thinks she has more to offer MI5 than setting up security.

Question of the Week

One of the Obligatory scenes for the Thriller is the false ending or two endings.  We are expecting this to happen in the last episode, the Ending Payoff.

So, what other shows have great false endings?

Randy: Die Hard; Silence of the Lambs; Salt; Captain America

Melanie: the false ending is an obligatory scene for the Thriller.  Casino Royale, Six Sense.

Parul: Harry Potter at the end of the last episode.  The Bridge TV Series.

Can you think of any shows we missed?  

Did this episode work for you as a viewer?

Leave your comments on our webpage at www.storygrid.com where you can also find links and additional material in the show notes.

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References:

Story Grid Showrunners Website – Show Notes and Vote for our next TV series

www.sgshowrunners.com

Story Grid References:

Books, Movies, Television series:

About Melanie Naumann

Melanie is a developmental editor and action love story writer from Germany. She helps songwriters write lyrics and concept albums that tell powerful stories. She specializes in applying the Story Grid methodology to songwriting as well as to the art of writing graphic novels & comic books.

About Parul Bavishi

Parul Bavishi started her publishing career in the editorial teams at Quercus and Random House and was later a Literary Scout for Eccles Fisher. She now edits Thriller and Young Adult novels through Publishing Uncovered and co-hosts the London Writers' Salon, a creative writing hub in London where she runs events such as the Pitch an Agent Masterclass. At the Salon, she has interviewed award-winning writers, including poet Amal El-Mohtar, and the journalist and writer Luke Jennings, creator of the Killing Eve series. She believes in the long-game approach to creating work that matters and taking time to hone your craft. She has helped many writers create their best work and would love to help you.

About Randall Surles

Randy Surles is a Certified Story Grid Editor with over 5 years of experience who specializes in editing Thrillers (Military/Fantasy/Science Fiction) and military non-fiction. Randy retired from the U.S. Army after serving over 20 years as a Green Beret.
Comments (2)
Authors Melanie Naumann and Parul Bavishi and Randall Surles

2 Comments

Randall Surles says:

Hey Sheryl, thanks, I’ve never heard of that series. We’ve decided on another series called the Umbrella Academy, with a different format, we’ll do episodes only about the Beginning Hook, Middle Build, and Ending Payoff, and then a summary episode covering the 6 core questions. How do you like the podcast so far? Any suggestions or other comments?

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